By Steve Scauzillo, August 29, 2016
Nellie Herrera, 91 has lived at 5513 Atlas Street in El Sereno for 54
years and will be moving to live with her daughter in La Puente because
Caltran is selling this home. Caltrans is preparing to sell the first 42
homes that were along the surface route of the proposed 710 Freeway
extension in about one month. Two key things have fallen in place:
release of a final Environmental Impact Report for the North 710 in El
Sereno (LA), South Pasadena and Pasadena surplus properties a few weeks
ago and simultaneously the finalization of a list of regulations on how
to go about selling the homes. The sales of surplus properties that were
supposed to be standing in the path of an extended freeway (surface
route) will begin at the end of September, said Caltrans. The EIR says
these will not be impacted by any potential extension , such as a
4.5-mile tunnel. There are 460 potential properties that Caltrans has
identified for sale. The final EIR says they will be selling off
properties in a five-year period, from September to 2020. They will be
sold to housing entities, previous owners, current tenants or other
private individuals or organizations.
Under orders by both the governor and the state Legislature, and
after a years-long push by both cities and tenants, Caltrans will soon
begin selling houses along the path of a scuttled surface route of a
north 710 Freeway extension,
The state transportation agency,
often criticized as an absentee landlord dragging its feet, will begin
taking first offers on 42 properties this fall, said agency spokeswoman
Lauren Wonder on Monday.
Wonder pointed to a list of 39 single-family and three multi-family properties on the agency’s website
that will be put up for sale. The residential properties — most of them
occupied with tenants — are located in El Sereno, a neighborhood
spanning Los Angeles, South Pasadena and Pasadena.
“That is what we are getting prepared to sell,” Wonder said,
referring to the list. “We will go out and start taking first offers.”
years of challenges, rewrites and delays, Caltrans on July 26 approved a
final, state-required environmental report on the sale of surplus
properties along what would’ve been the buildout of a surface freeway
route from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway in west
On the same date, Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty
signed off rules allowing the sale of 460 properties in the same
north-south strip under a state program.
With a new surface freeway route ruled out, Caltrans is still
considering other projects for the area: a dedicated busway, a
light-rail line, traffic management systems or a 6.3-mile freeway tunnel with or without trucks, according to the agency.
The first homes being sold will lie outside “the scope” of those transportation options, according to Caltrans.
closer to the new routes will be sold later, as will properties
considered excess if alternative routes are built or the project is
Any decision on a freeway tunnel or another alternative won’t be made until next year, she said.
said the approval of the reports will allow the agency to move forward
with the sale of the homes at appraised, fair-market value. Homes with
residents living there for more than two years will be sold at an
“affordable price,” according to Caltrans documents.
Gonzalez, city manager of South Pasadena, said the city is “very excited
about getting these properties back into private ownership.”
Of the 42 properties listed, three are in Pasadena, six in Los Angeles and 33 in South Pasadena.
said in the past, many of the Caltrans properties along the route were
shuttered or marked with graffiti. Many fell into general disrepair.
A recent bill
by state Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge, required Caltrans to
remove itself from its landlord role and sell the homes as is. But the
opening of bids is likely to bring even more questions about the
properties and their residents.
Some wonder whether the
rent-paying tenants will be able to afford the asking price for their
homes. If not, advocates worry that they’ll be forced out.
But some residents, like Nellie Herrera, 91, who has lived in the
same home in El Sereno for 54 years, said it might be time to move on.
If her house is sold, she said she’ll go live with a relative.
“It is a nice home. I like it,” she said. “I take good care of my house. But it is too big for me.”
Sutton, a Pasadena attorney who has represented tenants of Caltrans’
homes located along the surface route for decades, was skeptical about
the sales moving forward. Caltrans has broken promises in the past, he
Sutton is also worried that the formulas Caltrans proposed for
setting the selling price may leave low and middle-income tenants out on
“We are hoping that the EIR will suggest mitigation measures to allow people to buy as many properties as they can,” he said.
said South Pasadena wants to see the homes sold so the owners can pay
full property taxes, a source of revenue for the city, county, school
and water districts. But he also said the city wants to see tenants buy
the homes from Caltrans. “They are our residents,” he said.
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, the date
Caltrans planned to sell the homes was incorrect. Caltrans plans to sell
the homes this fall, but has not specified an exact month.